Board meeting

(Willmar MN-) On a split vote, the Kandiyohi County Board Tuesday voted to continue allowing refugees to resettle in the county. The action came in response to Executive Order 13888, which asks counties to pass letters of consent to continue refugee resettlement. The Order was designed to give local units of government more control over hosting refugees. The 3 to 2 vote came after more than an hour of debate in which commissioners Like Harlan Madsen expressed anger at the federal government for putting counties in this position because congress can't get past their partisan gridlock and pass meaningful immigration reform...

...The commissioners said they had received many emails from county residents on this issue.   Voting no were commissioners Steve Ahmann and Rollie Nissen, and both said they felt they needed more information on the financial impact refugees had on local communities and schools.   Some also said a pending lawsuit might overturn the order and made a vote unnecessary.   Ahmann said he felt the federal government has really thrown the taxpayers under the bus.   He said in the 70s and 80s local churches could pay to resettle Vietnamese and Hmong refugees in local communities...

...Executive Order 13888 was signed by President Trump September 26th, and counties were given a 90 day deadline which ends December 26th. Commissioner Roger Imdieke said they just found out about the order a week or two ago...

...One of the organizations that resettles refugees in Minnesota is Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, and LSS Refugee Services Manager and Refugee Resettlement Supervisor Karin Blythe told the board there's a difference between immigrants and refugees. Refugees come to the United States seeking protection from persecution in their homeland. Blythe said the numbers that come to Kandiyohi County yearly are fairly low, often in the single digits, and last year were split between 6 Karen refugees from Burma and 4 from east Africa, such as Somalia, and all of them come to be reunited with family members after being separated often for many years...

...Blythe said refugees are given a one-time payment of $1175 from the federal government to help with resettlement costs, although some communities will match that grant.